BEDCO will hold its first-ever Stakeholders' Forum on 01 August 2014. The Forum is expected to be a watershed event that will grant the Corporation's stakeholders a golden opportunity to under and appreciate the Corporation (identity) and its programmatic work that it is doing. The Forum, will culminate in the presentation of an Annual Report, which will highlight the major events, activities, functions and achievement of the Corporation in the last year (2013/2014). It will also highlight the milestones and challenges that the Corporation registered in the previous year.
BEDCO holds this event against the backdrop of growing, but staggering business enterprise in Lesotho. As a result, the event is expected to serve as a grand platform for all those that come into contact with BEDCO and share a common ground regarding the mission and vision of the organisation, above all in achievement of the organisation's mandate to confer on the organizational programmatic content and what the Corporation is doing. The envisaged Forum has to be a watershed activity that is intended to break the ice and bring all stakeholders together for mutual and long-term benefit that has to trickle down to those on the receiving end of the Corporation's services.
Like any other organisation, BEDCO has to some extent been operating in isolation from its stakeholders – entrepreneurs at the micro, small and medium scales, the government, private sector in general, board, management and the staff. These varied publics, both internal and external have a direct influence on how the organisation operates and also make demands from the organisation. The changes, both in structure and operation of the organisation (organisational programme content) have to be cascaded down to all these publics in order to create a symmetrical relationship.
The challenges confronting parastatals like BEDCO are three-fold – namely, gaining the stakeholders' support in the consolidation of the change process, which is intended to yield positive results in the short and long-term, promoting internal efficiency and guiding external accountability with intent to creating long-term value for change and also managing its varied stakeholder base.
First, BEDCO is currently consolidating its recovery from near demise, which was exacerbated mainly by lack of vision, weak internal operations, creating and sustaining a reputation among its peers and funding sources that have been threatened. The organisation has therefore been pressured to find ways to restore its image and refurbish its brand. This demands not only practical experience in change leadership but also the requisite integrity to generate a more spruced up reputation in the organisation's environment.
Secondly, the current political, economic and social environments within which the Corporation operates - change of government, change of leadership – ministers and principal secretaries, resignation of key staff members and the coming of new ones as well as the new shape that the organisation envisions to take and the repositioning its wants to engage in both internally and externally, demand tighter performance leadership protocols and an organisational culture that fits well in the new dispensation. As BEDCO's senior management implement stricter performance management systems internally, so must be the junior levels of the organisation's need to respond by entrenching the requisite performance linkages at the lower levels. This also goes to the board (a mix of competent individuals with relevant expertise) which need not only hold the organisation accountable, but also to add value by supporting its growth and development path.
Thirdly, BEDCO's stakeholders, that encompasses its staff, management, board, entrepreneurs (MSMEs), government and other public bodies such as Lesotho National development Corporation (LNDC) must also support the change process that BEDCO envisages, otherwise it will all, but a naught. The support cannot just come by, but it is triggered in the main, by efforts made by BEDCO to ensure that all its publics are at par and at the same wavelength with the pace with which this change process is planned to take. If it is fast, stakeholders must not go at a snail's pace because they will render it a failure. If it is moderate in speed, the stakeholders must not go too fast because they will then demand too much from the Corporation, which it might fail to meet and if it is slow, they must also not be too ahead of it. The pace of the change process must correspond with the demands of the stakeholders and how they view it is very important. How they view the change, positively or negatively such as that it is intended to render them redundant and lead to job losses or that the organisation is heading towards a demise.
Therefore, the envisaged Forum is intended to be a platform for all those with whom BEDCO comes into contact – staff members, management, board, ministry of Trade and Industry, Cooperatives & Marketing, Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), government of Lesotho, entrepreneurs (MSMEs), oversight bodies on trade-related issues (Lesotho Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Private Sector Foundation, Private Sector Competitiveness etc. This platform will serve as an important junction-point where these stakeholders, for the first time, confer on trade related issues and get a glimpse of what BEDCO does and does not do.
Creation of this understanding should in the long-term, have a positive multiplier effect on how the organisation is perceived by its stakeholders. This will in turn, create a mutual cooperation as well as mutual support for the Corporation's envisaged future outlook, especially at this critical but delicate time when the organisation is going through a reincarnation of its own. BEDCO is going through a change process, which started a year ago, but which has not been finely communicated or cascaded down to its publics. Therefore, this Forum must serve in one way or the other, as a platform for BEDCO to unveil its intentions regarding its envisaged reincarnation process.
The Forum will draw on the stakeholders' experiences and wealth of expertise to shape the nature and scope of the rejuvenation that the organisation intends to take. It must serve as a grand opportunity for all stakeholders to take advantage of their coming together to know each other and better understand the Corporation's renewed vision and mission, without deviating from its primary mandate.
The Forum is expected to achieve the following objectives:
- Identify with BEDCO as their Corporation of first choice,
- Interpret BEDCO's renewed vision and mission,
- Support BEDCO's change process,
- Act as ambassadors of the Corporation wherever they are,
- Demand their due space within BEDCO
- See and view BEDCO in a positive light (reputation-building)
The event will be characterized by presentation of official speeches made around a common theme of the Forum. There will also be wide-ranging discussions on national topics aligned to the work of the Corporation. The themes must be succinctly selected in order to elicit the required response from the stakeholders. Finally, there will be a dinner at the end of the seminar. The Forum is intended to take the format of a come-together where all stakeholders participate in the events of the day. As indicated earlier, the following activities will shape the character and form that the forum will take. There will also be plenary sessions for discussions and deliberations on national business and trade-related issues, which will trigger exchanges of views on a number of issues that BEDCO works with.
The event will be preceded by exhibitions of entrepreneurs products and services, which will take place a week or two earlier.
At the end of the event, a comprehensive report on the function will be produced and will be published. In addition, an Occasional paper covering the presentations made by various experts at the function.